Sunday, November 7, 2010

Better than Chicken Pot Pie

I've been quite busy running around showing my dad all the wondrous and yummy things I've stumbled across so far in Paris. For the past 3 weeks, my dad has been tagging along in my crazy French-ish lifestyle... jumping the metro turnstiles, holding our breaths as we walk through the "not-so-sanitary" clouds of air underneath the bridges and overpasses, drinking one too many bottles of red wine (whoops), and best of all (and most appealing to him, perhaps)... strolling through the open air food markets.

Marches de Versailles


My dad is the cook in the family. He always tried to teach me and my brother the importance of basic cooking knowledge... from how to make a perfectly cooked sunny-side up egg, to how to stretch your food, to 100 different things to do with beans. I'm finally on the same page with him regarding beans... he's been trying to get me to eat them since I was a kid (I was a very picky eater). I figure that now that my palette has matured and I am up for eating and cooking just about anything, a "cooking day" would be the perfect "father/daughter bonding experience," and in what better place than Paris.

We started out our day at the open air food market. It was a little drizzly that morning, so I'm grateful that the market is merely steps away from my front door and completely sheltered by the metro overpass. We did a once-through to check out what there was available, and on the way back picked up 2 mackerel and 2 trout from the poissonnière to do some fun recipe testing.



For lunch, we made baked trout and mackerel 4 ways. We stuffed one trout with onions and lemon, and topped the outside with chopped parsley and lemon slices. The other trout we painted with a thick coating of mayonnaise and stuffed with lemon and parsley butter. I made a compound butter with some of the jerk spice mix we got from Jamaica (sugar, Jamaican pimento, crushed red pepper, onion chips, garlic, paprika, ginger, celery, mustard, salt) and put that inside one of the mackerel, with a little olive oil and jerk rub on the skin. The other mackerel we stuffed with the rest of the parsley and lemon slices. We baked the fish in the oven until flaky and aromatic, and served that with a side salad of mesclun greens (also bought from the market) and cucumber.

Fish, Prepped for Baking

 Fish - After

It wasn't even 4pm before we were back at the cutting board for round two of cooking. The previous night we roasted some duck legs and thighs over potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic... and had some leftovers I wanted to use. Dad had also done his gravy thing... and made a rich, dark duck jus using all of the roasted bits in that were in the pan and the leftover duck bones.

In an effort to save money and use my food to it's fullest extent, I've started to save the green tops from the celery stalks and carrots that I get at the market. I toss them in a large freezer bag with onion scraps, potato peels, etc... and once the bag is full, I make a hefty pot of vegetable broth. My current bag of scraps had reached it's capacity, so I dumped everything into a pot of boiling water and let it do it's veggie thing.

With two broths in hand, a pile of leftover of veggies, and a whole chicken in the fridge, my dad and I collaborated on an old classic... chicken pot pie.

The Filling

This recipe is a perfect one for re-purposing your leftovers and scraps into an absolutely delicious meal. We shared the pot pie between 7 people, and all were left leaning back in their chairs with a smile on their face. The onset of a food coma was imminent.

Better than Chicken Pot Pie

 Better than Chicken Pot Pie

Better than Chicken Pot Pie

Collaborative Recipe with my Dad

*Before reading this recipe, note that all amounts are approximate (except for the crust). Depending on what you have leftover, what veggie scraps you may have, or how large your onions/celery/carrots are, the best way to make sure the end product tastes delicious is by tasting as you go. You may find you need to add more or less of something, so feel free to adapt this to what you have available!

1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
6-8 cups of vegetable broth (recipe below)
1 pie crust (recipe below)
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
any leftover roasted veggies (carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic), optional
2 cups of duck broth
6 tablespoons of flour
3/4 cup cold water
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit (200° Celsius).

Heat butter and extra virgin olive oil in a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and sauté for a few minutes, until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and cook until the carrots and celery are soft, about 6-8 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Place the vegetables into a 9-10 inch round (or in my case 12.5 inch x 9.5 inch x 2.5 inch deep oval) baking dish.

Bring 6-8 cups of vegetable broth (see recipe below) to a boil in a large pot. Add the chicken into the vegetable broth and lower the heat to medium. Stew the chicken in the broth for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the chicken pieces and allow to cool slightly. Remove meat from the bone and chop any large pieces into bite-sized chunks. Place the pieces of chicken into the baking dish with the vegetables.

*Here is where you can add any leftover roasted vegetables (if you have any) such as carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, etc... Just be sure to cut the vegetables into small, bite-sized chunks.

In a medium pot, heat the duck broth and 2 cups of the remaining vegetable stock over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk the flour into the cold water until a smooth paste is formed. Add the flour paste into the hot broth and whisk until the broth begins to thicken. Pour the gravy over the vegetables and chicken in the baking dish. Sprinkle the Montreal Chicken Seasoning over the chicken and vegetables.

Roll the pie dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick and about 1 inch wider than the baking dish on all sides. Drape the pie crust over the baking dish and with a sharp knife, make a few slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape.

Bake in a preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and the filling is bubbly. Serves 6-8.  

Vegetable Stock

green tops of 1 bunch of carrots
green tops of 1 stalk of celery (equal to the amount of carrot tops)
1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
any leftover veggie peels (potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic)

In a large stock pot, place the carrot tops, celery tops, onion, and any leftover veggie peels, and cover with water. Roughly chop any large greens/tops of the celery and carrots that may not easily fit into the pot.

Bring the water to a boil, and simmer the veggies, covered, from anywhere between 1 hour to infinity (hehe), depending on how flavorful you want your stock. Be sure to not over salt the broth initially, as the flavors with intensify as the broth concentrates.

Pâte Brisée

1 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ice water

Place the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine. Place cold cubes of butter into the flour and with two knives cut the butter into the flour until the pieces of butter resemble the size of peas. A tablespoon at a time, add the ice water to the flour and mix gently with a fork just until the dough is able to be formed into a ball. Do not knead the dough! The dough will be crumbly and flaky, which is what you want.

Form the dough into a disc and wrap tightly with cling wrap. Place into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before rolling. Once the dough has rested, let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes to make it easier to roll out.

Gently roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about 1/8" thick.


  1. I really need to start making homemade stock at times other than Thanksgiving! This looks amazing, glad to hear you're having a blast with your dad!

  2. Yum. That chicken pot pie looks fabulous. I have made lots of chicken stock, but I have never made a very successful vegetable stock. What else do you put in yours?

  3. @The Food Hound - Thanks! I am having a great time with my dad!

    @City Share - I just put all the scraps I had from carrots, onions(even the peel), potatoes, garlic, celery... plus some roasted veggie leftovers, and that's about it!

  4. How fun to have your dad there! Great pie - I bet the duck stock just adds such depth.

  5. Yes, I will be honest, I didn't think I was going to think it would be better than chicken pot pie.

    You have convinced me otherwise. Wow.